Make your wishes come true with our new and improved app…

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Due to popular demand, we have launched an exciting new version of our give-and-take app (all free, of course)!

As well as the usual free-text wishes you can add for each other on Couple Karma, we now offer a choice of suggested wishes for different categories: romance, intimacy, household, fun and lifestyle. Have a look on the app and decide which wishes you like most. Haven’t downloaded the app yet? Hop over to Google Play and download it for free.

Lots of our users have already tried the new functionality, and we can reveal the top wishes chosen from our wish categories so far:

Category Top Wish
Romance Candlelit dinner
Intimacy Bath together
Household Grocery shopping
Fun Cinema
Lifestyle Exercise

 

Feeling inspired? Do let us know how you get on and if there are any additional wishes you’d like us to add.

Join our community at:

http://www.facebook.com/couplekarma

http://www.twitter.com/couplekarma

http://www.instagram.com/couplekarma

Happy wishing!

Charlie and Claudia

5 ways exercise has changed our relationship

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When we first met in our early 20s, we weren’t the sportiest couple in the world. Our diet wasn’t very good, we went to the pub too often, and had too many late nights. It was fun then, but it certainly wasn’t very healthy.

Since we had our son seven years ago, our lifestyle changed dramatically for the better, and our relationship also has reaped the benefits of this. We’ve both taken an interest in exercise: Charlie is a keen runner, while I enjoy some yoga and aerobics/strength exercises (I recommend JessicaSmithTV – many of her videos are free on YouTube!). We also go swimming as a family when we have time.

We’ve thought of the ways more regular exercise and healthier eating has improved our relationship, and we’ve come up with the following list:

  1. We don’t get ill as often

Gone are the days when we all would be sick once or twice a month with the latest office/nursery bug – a real relief!

  1. We are less stressed after a day at work

Work can be stressful for both of us, but we’ve found that we feel a lot more balanced and calmer if we incorporate a 20 minute exercise slot two or three times in the working week, and all have a longer family walk at the weekend.

  1. It’s fun doing exercise together, e.g. yoga

We’re both fans of Tara Lee’s yoga DVDs, and have fun doing (or trying to do) yoga next to each other. My lack of balance never fails to amuse Charlie, while I find Charlie’s attempts to copy a JessicaSmithTV aerobic workout hilarious.

  1. We feel more energetic and ‘alive’

We certainly have more energy than we did a few years ago: that helps with pretty much every aspect of our relationship, especially romantic activities… 😉

  1. We don’t feel stressed about ageing

It’s true: we’re hitting middle age but we have a better body image now than we did 10 or 15 years ago.

So, no, we are not exercise fanatics and we do enjoy a good meal and having the odd glass of wine, but we’ve found that integrating a bit of exercise into our weekly routine really helps with our day-to-day lives and quality time together.

We recommend scheduling in some quality time/exercise slots into your weeks – and if you absolutely hate any form of exercise, just try going for a walk together to start with!

Enjoy your time together! x

 

Our Top Ten Love Songs… What Are Yours?

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We’ve had the day together as a family today, because it’s a national holiday here in the U.K. Discussion soon turned, as it often does at Couple Karma HQ, to the question of the top ten best ever love songs. There was lively disagreement. In the end we agreed to disagree and each came up with our own lists.

So who’s right? Who’s got the better list? And which songs have we missed out? Let us know! 🙂

Claudia’s

10 Chet Baker – ‘My Funny Valentine’

9 Peter Gabriel – ‘In Your Eyes’

8 Bill Withers – ‘Lean on Me’

7 Okkervil River – ‘Hanging on a Hit’

6 The Beatles – ‘In my Life’

5 The LA’s – ‘There She Goes’

4 Four Tops – ‘If I were a Carpenter’

3 Elton John – ‘Your Song’

2 Bob Dylan – ‘Don’t think twice, it’s alright’

1 The Cure – ‘Just like Heaven’

 

Charlie ‘s

10 Carly Simon – ‘Nobody Does it Better’

9 Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes – ‘I’ve had the time of my life’

8 New Order – ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ 

7 Lionel Richie & Diana Ross – ‘Endless Love’

6 Jennifer Rush – ‘The Power of Love’

5 David Bowie – ‘Heroes’

4 Righteous Brothers – ‘You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling’

3 Depeche Mode – ‘Enjoy the Silence’

2 Abba – ‘The Winner Takes it All’

1 Sinead O’Connor – ‘Nothing Compares to You’

How to stop stress ruining your quality time together

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Sometimes worries and angry feelings can make relaxing difficult. Even if the issues you’re upset about don’t have anything to do with your partner, negative emotions like these can really get in the way of spending quality time with each other.

Whether you’re annoyed about work, money, family, or political issues, it can sometimes be difficult to switch off from these feelings to be able to enjoy the company of your other half. It can be tempting instead to spend your time together constantly turning over the issues at hand, even when the course of action that needs to be taken is clear to you both. The result is often that you finish your couple time even more wound up about the issues than you did beforehand. Quality couple time has become anything but.

We’ve sometimes had this kind of problem ourselves over the years. Now, though, we’ve figured out a way to stop our couple time being wasted in this way: the venting strategy.

How to vent

If one of us is worried or annoyed about something, the rule is that he or she has a set period of time to vent about the issue. The other partner listens, and then the two of us talk – again for a set period of time – about what can be done to address the problem. Once we’ve done that, the topic is out of bounds for further discussion. For the rest of the time we spend together, we make a conscious effort to talk about something else, ideally something positive and uplifting.

This strategy has generally worked well for us. When one of us is annoyed or upset about something, our couple time becomes an opportunity to take a break from the worries for the partner who is upset. Afterwards, he or she generally feels more relaxed and better able to handle whatever it is that is causing the worry. Why not give this strategy a go in your relationship and see how it works for you? Let us know how you get on!

pexels-photo-356148

Create great memories on a budget

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We were lucky last week and had the whole week off work, so we spent a lot of really nice family time together.

We could have easily just played everything by ear, like we used to in the days before becoming parents. In those days, we would often wake up too late to do any major outings, or we would set off too close to lunchtime, which would usually mean that half of the trip would be spent in a restaurant or trying to get a snack from somewhere.

These days, we plan ahead. We sat down at the beginning of the week and planned several activities that we would enjoy. Our son probably won’t be too keen to come with us on our trips in 5 years’ time (when he is a teenager), so we’re trying to create as many nice holiday memories together now as we can. Plus, we read a number of articles recently that emphasised that time spent together on holiday is much more important than previously thought.

We have been making a lot more effort for our couple-only days off too!

It’s all about quality time, not length of holiday or (thankfully) cost. Here are some activities that work well either for couples or for the whole family:

  • If you’re in the U.K., you could go on a National Trust day out. You can get unlimited access to historic properties for about £100 per year (family membership).
  • Visit a zoo or aquarium (online pre-booking helps to keep down the cost).
  • Going swimming or bowling together (if you go often, a monthly or annual membership will reduce the cost).
  • Playing board games – try to find games which appeal to the kids and to the parents. Cluedo and Monopoly are firm favourites here!
  • Going for countryside walks together. Plan a proper picnic if you like, or stop at a village pub somewhere for a snack.
  • Planning nice meals. If money is tight, go through cookery books or websites together and plan some special meals that won’t break the bank. Then cook together, if that’s fun for you all. Restaurant meals out can also be a special treat (try vouchercloud to keep a lid on costs).
  • Go for a Youth Hostel They have family rooms and many special offers. We stayed at St Briavel Castle (yes, a real castle) last year, which was great fun.
  • Download a treasure hunt app and go hunting nearby (e.g. Huntzz).

We hope some of these ideas work for you – let us know how you get on!

 

#LoveChallenge week…so, how did it go?

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In our busy lives, it’s often hard to make time for each other, so last week we hosted our own #lovechallenge week on our Couple Karma Facebook and Twitter pages. Hope it was fun for you – we would love your feedback! Of course, we also try to follow our own advice…so, how did we do? (And no, we were not perfect!)

Love challenge 1: playing a board game or video game with your partner

Verdict: ermm…. not a great start to the #lovechallenge week! That day, we couldn’t play a game in the evening as I came home late from work and had to rush off to my reading group. However, we made time to play ‘Trivial Pursuit’ the next day instead. It was actually quite a lot of fun.

Love challenge 2: switching off the phone/social media and giving your partner your full attention

Verdict: success! We took a conscious break from TV/ our social media channels for a while. It felt very relaxing and good to just have some time together without any interruptions.

Love challenge 3: giving your partner a relaxing massage

Verdict: success! We actually made time for this on a few evenings last week as we both had pretty stressful days. It worked really well and we slept better as a result. For good and free advice on how to give a proper neck/shoulder/body massages, why not have a look in your local library for ‘teach yourself’ books or DVDs, or check out YouTube. You can also make your own massage oil: we use almond or olive oil with a few drops of lavender essential oil.

Love challenge 4: hide a love note for your partner to find

Verdict: partial success! Charlie hid a love note in my pillow case, which was very sweet. Unfortunately, I completely forgot. :-/ However, I will hide one in the next few days, when he’ll least suspect it.

Love challenge 5: do a household chore your partner doesn’t like doing

Verdict: success. Charlie doesn’t like cooking or cleaning, so I tend to cook every day and I also deep-cleaned the kitchen. In return, Charlie did the bins and general tidying and hoovering (which I don’t like). Result.

Love challenge 6: prepare your loved one’s favourite meal or takeaway dish

Verdict: success. As Charlie hates cooking, I made one of his favourite dishes, chilli con carne (with lots of coriander).  Check out this recipe. 🙂 All good!

Love challenge 7: give your partner a sincere compliment today, and reward them with a kiss that lasts longer than 5 seconds

Verdict: success! We both helped each other out that day (Charlie helped me finish a guest blog post, and I did a lot of social media work for Couple Karma and Charlie’s new app, Rugby Vote), so we were both thankful for this (and told each other!). The kiss wasn’t bad either! 😉

So, all in all, a pretty good #lovechallenge week, and something we will do again soon. Hope you enjoyed it too! See you next week. x

Join us for #LoveChallenge Week and new feature on our app!

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This coming week (3rd – 9th April) we’ll host our own #lovechallenge week on our Couple Karma Facebook and Twitter pages. We’d love you to join us and take the daily love challenge. It won’t take much time or money, but we guarantee that it’ll brighten up your partner’s (and your) week. 🙂

In other news, we’ve added a ‘Need Inspiration?’ button onto our Couple Karma app, which will guide you to our ’50 Top Wishes’ post. Hope this will help narrow down which wishes you’d like your partner to fulfil.

See you next week!

pexels-photo-220068

Get real. What independent films can teach us about love

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When we first started going out in the early 2000s, our regular ‘date-night’ routine was to go to Blockbusters (I still had a VHS recorder back then), browse the aisles for about 30 minutes and debate which film to watch. We would buy double-chocolate ice cream and order a pizza, and then watch at least one film per night. (We still had lots of energy back then, so late nights were not a problem.)

We must have watched most of the classic Hollywood films together, from ‘Manhattan’ to ‘Taxi Driver’. We also went to the cinema pretty often, something we hardly ever do these days. (£20 for 2 tickets anyone? Enough said.)

These days, we watch quite a lot of films and series together on Netflix, many of which end up being about relationships in some way or another! We still have a healthy debate before adding films onto our wish list, but we’re (mostly) off the junk food these days. And we’re in bed by 10 pm…

Our favourite ones so far have been:

  • 45 Years (detailing the sudden change in a long marriage just before the couple’s 45th wedding anniversary. Wonderfully acted and heart breaking.)
  • Love Steaks (a German comedy drama about the blossoming relationship between an alcoholic chef and a shy masseur in a luxury hotel. Well worth watching! Subtitles.)
  • Blue Jay (a recent black-and-white film about high school sweethearts meeting again 20 years after they broke up. Great dialogue and very emotional. I’m a big fan of Mark Duplass, so do check out his other films. Safety not Guaranteed is another great one.)
  • Ghost World (based on a comic book, with teenagers Scarlett Johansen and Thora Birch encountering a nerdy, loveable Steve Buscemi).
  • Love. A new series about two misfits falling in love. In Hollywood.

What’s so refreshing about these films and series is that the protagonists don’t go skipping hand in hand into a fairytale sunset after they have finally kissed / tied the knot. Love often is raw and complicated, and viewing couples struggling with their emotions, lack of communication skills and life in general is a breath of fresh air.

People are not perfect. There are no fairy tale endings – you need to put in work continuously to maintain a good relationship. And everyone is in the same boat: even the people who you think have it all.

So… we hope you’ll enjoy some of our recommended films above. We’d also love to hear your recommendations. Head over to our Facebook or Twitter pages and let us know. See you there!

Have a good week!

popcorn-movie-party-entertainment

Our First Interview!

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Exciting times. We have just been interviewed about our app and the story behind it by the lovely Talented Ladies Club – please read the full interview here:

Please like and share. Thanks!
Claudia and Charlie

Minimalism in Your Relationship

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I am a big fan of the minimalism movement. Over the last few years, I have been following Joshua Becker’s Becoming Minimalist blog, Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits musings, and I still enjoy reading the The Minimalists’ essays on trying to simplify their (and our) daily lives. If I was single, I’d definitely consider living in a Tiny House with as few belongings as possible. (I’m not so sure that living in what is essentially one big room would work well for us as a family, however.)

Having recently re-watched Minimalism – The Documentary on Netflix, I went through a few of our rooms with black bin bags and now have two big piles of unwanted clothes, books and toys for the charity shop. It is astounding how much clutter we have amassed in the last 1 ½ years in our new home. And it is wonderful how much more peaceful our decluttered rooms feel now. They are also easier to tidy and clean (which is a plus, given that I am not naturally a particularly tidy person).

Minimalism teaches us to focus on the essential things in life

By getting rid of the surplus clutter and belongings, we get to the essence of what makes us happiest. For example, you may realise that 8 out of the 10 tops in your drawer are not really ‘you’, that you don’t enjoy wearing them that much, and that these can be given away (or sold) without you missing them at all. The remaining two tops, however, make you feel happy, and you definitely want to keep them. Great!

So, how can we apply minimalism to our relationships?

Focus on what makes you happy

When it boils down to it, what are the two or three things that you really need from and in your relationship, i.e. ‘things’ that keep you happy on a day-to-day basis?

I’d be surprised if these ‘things’ really were objects. Most likely, they are gestures of kindness, such as a hug and kiss good morning, practical help with household chores, being thanked/feeling appreciated. (See also our Top 50 list of things you may want to wish for in your relationship.)

Exchange your wishes

So, once you have a shortlist of wishes, exchange them with your partner. Don’t overwhelm them with more than five wishes at a time. Really focus on what makes you happiest. And then ask your partner to fulfil these wishes, in a positive, loving way. It’s an ongoing give and take process, and I guarantee that it will make both of you happier, as long as you both keep working on fulfilling each other’s wishes!

Obviously, we’d love you to do this via our app, which we have custom-built for exactly this purpose. (If you don’t have an Android phone, we’re planning an iPhone version at some point soon! In the meantime, try a paper-and-pen approach.)

We’d love to hear how this is working for you. Just email feedback@couplekarma.com – looking forward to hearing from you! 🙂

Now, back to the decluttering…

Claudia (female half of Couple Karma)

Love notebook with flowers